Comment 1:

I’m experiencing issues with my comments again, it says they’re awaiting moderation. Apologies for any inconvenience, I’ve included the remaining three comments below:

Comment 2: – Awaiting moderation


This is a topic area I am personally very interested in. The key concern in this debate ultimately centres around the matter of harm, whether it be to the participants or the public. However harm is extremely complex area and ultimately saying something is or isn’t harmful is difficult. One of things that I’ve noticed about the chart is that is it specifically says “physical harm” which I can understand.. Psychological harm can be a somewhat awkward area to define.

There is definitely a clear difference between physical and psychological harm in theoretical sense, however there are a lot of situations where the line is certainly blurred. For example drinking lowers inhibitions which has been linked to increased likelihood of unprotected sex and spread off STI’s [1]. Which of the two would you definitively put that under? Lowered inhibitions is clearly psychological yet the outcome it has is physical. Harm as a whole can be very difficult to effectively sum up especially with psychedelic drugs such as LSD, which in terms of it’s physical harm are generally very low e.g. risk of overdose is extremely low given that the lethal is 400 times that of the threshold dose. However the effect LSD has on the mind depends on the individual, and on the environment the drug is taken in. If taken by a person free of mental illness in an environment in which they are safe and feel safe, then risk should be absolutely minimal. However it can in some individuals can trigger dormant psychotic conditions, or cause a delirium in extremely high doses in which an individual may be more likely to engage in dangerous behaviours. In short, the danger of many drugs depends on how and where they are used.

One final problem is that when assessing the harm of illegal drugs we are often relying on statistics for overdoses and hospital reports, rather than lab settings. Illegal drugs are impure therefore, how do we know whether ecstasy deaths are actually caused by MDMA and not by the various cutting agents in the pills? Recently purity levels of Ecstasy tablets have been as low as 24.7% [2]. Conversely many users rely on lab experiments to judge the safety of their illicit drug use, which isn’t likely to be representative given the above information.

In sum, effectively judging harm and thus reducing harm is very difficult in the world of drugs especially illicit drugs. This because the exact nature of harm can depend on the situation, and the statistics we used to make these decisions are often inaccurate.


[1]Rehm 2012 –

Comment 3: – Awaiting moderation:

Well it seems from the comments here, that the promise of a higher income is a key reason why many of us attend University. Recent figures for this year
seem to suggest that despite increasing rates of unemployment, graduates continue to on average earn more than non-graduates[1] The average wage for a graduate is £15.18 compared with £8.92 of non graduates. However are these figure applicable to you and I? There is fair amount of variance in the data, medicine graduates earning £21.29 an hour, and Arts graduates earning 12.06 an hour. So really our wage depends on which subject we choose to study. Research seems to suggest personal factors also play a key role,that men benefit less than females from a degree[2]. Meta-analysis seem to show that youth and education were equally significant as predictors of salary[3] therefore will mature student benefit that greatly from a degree? Lastly it’s important to keep in mind that these figures are largely correlation therefore we cannot be entirely sure it is the degree itself that is causing the increase in wage. Or is it merely that people who attend university share attributes such as above average intelligence that have been linked to increased earnings?[4] The answer to these questions, I sadly do not know, however considering that many of us consider wage a driving factor, it is certainly worth considering whether these estimated figures are personally applicable and ultimately whether our degrees will benefits our wage in the long run?



Comment 4: – awaiting moderation


Really nice blog, and from the comments I see this is certainly a topic people care about.

I think kfh1991 raised a really interesting point regarding generalisability, which is something we often ignore in Animal research debates. Generally I find people tend to focus on the potential harm to animals, however if results aren’t generalisable then the are being put animals through unnecessary stress/harm. Due to vast nature of Psychology, the matter of generalisability is especially tricky. When researching language and higher cognitive functions like logic, animals aren’t particularly useful because the differences between humans and animals are often too great. However in more biological research, animals can be helpful. Rats for example share an average of 85% genetic similarity with humans and some primates share more than 90%. Areas such as the visual system in humans are relatively similar to those of monkeys and as result animal research has been hugely beneficial e.g. Hubel & Wiesel won the nobel prize in 1981. Animal research can even aid us in understanding behaviour, because many of the fundamental behavioural laws such as avoiding painful stimuli are universal. Findings by Skinner, have even been used to develop token economies to reduce problem behaviours in prisons(Hobbs & Holt 1976; Ayllon & Millan, 1979). As you can see, animal research can certainly be generalisable in certain areas of psychology and thus very helpful. However I would like to make it clear that just because animal research can be generalisable, doesn’t mean that It can ever be an excuse for unnecessary harm, as the welfare of the animals should always be the priority.


Hobbs & Holt 1976 –

Ayllon & Millan, 1979